Dry January 101: Everything You Need to Know

Dry January is a personal challenge that helps people cut down on their alcohol consumption and explore the growing trend of non-alcoholic cocktails, zero-proof spirits and alcohol-free wine and beer. Read on to find your new favorite Dry January drinks, mocktails and brands — plus ways to make Dry January easier.

a plate of rim salt with a Bloody Mary

The new year always comes with resolutions, but partaking in Dry January, a month of not drinking, is a personal challenge rising in popularity.

This month-long challenge helps people cut down on their alcohol consumption and explore the growing trend of non-alcoholic beverages.

If you’re planning to participate in Dry January, you might be wondering how you can make it through the month without sipping on a glass of wine or drinking a cocktail.

However, not drinking alcohol for 31 days isn’t as hard as it sounds — it can even be quite enjoyable.

Below you’ll find suggestions for what to drink, how to make mocktails and how to get through the month.

“Why Dry January? To show myself that I’m stronger than any habit. Alcohol doesn’t define my fun. My social life didn’t suffer and I can thrive without drinking. The experience felt like a detox for the body and mind.”

— Jessica Haggard, Primal Edge Health

What is Dry January?

Observed from January 1 to January 31, Dry January is a public health campaign encouraging people to refrain from drinking for a month as an abbreviated new year’s resolution.

It’s similar to Sober October, which is a similar personal challenge held during the month of October.

Also sometimes called “Drynuary,” Dry January and Sober October participants partake for a number of reasons, including:

  • Resetting after a busy holiday season or summer
  • Starting the year on a fresh note
  • Practicing mindful drinking
  • Saving money on buying alcohol
  • Trying out a new year’s resolution
  • Solidarity with a friend starting or kicking a habit
two non-alcoholic mimosas with a citrus juicer

Benefits of Dry January

Giving up alcohol is said to have a number of health benefits, including weight loss, mental acuity, better sleep and healthier skin, as well as reduced risk of certain cancers, strokes and heart disease.

Beyond that, Dry January is a window into the sober curious movement for participants to discover how to enjoy life without alcohol.

For some, the goal is to detox or enjoy alcohol in moderation. For others, participating is a step toward eliminating alcohol for good.

“Dry January is uncomfortable but super rewarding. You learn different ways to have fun at social gatherings, different habits you may keep when it’s done, more about yourself and coping mechanisms. The health benefits, energy and clarity that come with it are rewarding, too.”

— Shelby Stover, Fit as a Mama Bear

The downside of Dry January

Though the behavior modification learned during Dry January and its health benefits help many, the challenge isn’t for everyone.

Some will experience symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol. For those with a serious drinking problem, one risk is the rebound effect in which some may feel inclined to binge drink at the conclusion.

Discuss with your doctor to see if this challenge is right for you.

If you think you or someone you know might need help with alcohol abuse, please call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.

a bottle of zero-proof alcohol with a mule mocktail

Is Dry January hard?

The sober movement is gaining popularity, so Dry January is an excellent way to dip your toes in the realm of non-alcoholic beverages.

There are more mocktail recipes than just Shirley Temple drinks. With more non-alcoholic choices than ever, sober-curious social drinkers have nothing to worry about.

Many bars and restaurants now offer non-alcoholic drinks on their menus year-round. You can even find bars dedicated to zero-proof drinks all over the world.

Plus there are non-alcoholic brands on the shelves at grocery stores, specialty shops and big name stores like CVS and Wal-Mart. Because no alcohol is included, zero-proof ingredients can also be ordered and shipped.

strawberries garnishing a glass of Strawberry Rosé Sangria

Non-alcoholic options

For non-drinkers, there are myriad choices beyond flavored water, soda and iced tea: non-alcoholic beer, wine and spirits.

These have limited shelf lives in comparison to bottled alcohol, so be sure to store them properly.

“I do dry January every year. It’s always tough at first because over the festive season you tend to drink more alcohol. The first weekend is always the worst, so I make myself non-alcoholic cocktails so that I feel like I’m being rewarded, just without the alcohol.”

— Mandy Applegate, Splash of Taste

Best non-alcoholic beer & wine

Non-alcoholic beer and wine have been on the shelves for years, but finding good-tasting brands could prove difficult.

With the rise of the zero-proof movement, imbibing without alcohol is getting easier.

Brands like Athletic Brewing Company and Fre Non-Alcoholic Wines sell quality zero-proof beer and wine, respectively.

These are the top-rated non-alcoholic wines on Amazon:

And these are some of the top-rated zero-proof beer brands on Amazon:

On a personal note, I’ve heard repeatedly from friends that they loved Athletic Brewing Co.’s non-alcoholic beers during pregnancy.

three bottles of ritual zero proof alcohol

Zero-proof spirits

Zero-proof spirits are another way to enjoy drinks without alcohol.

A great way to enjoy Dry January drinks is to replace the alcohol in your favorite drinks with zero-proof spirits.

The perfect alternative to regular booze, they are essentially flavored liquids that are meant to mimic the flavor of classic spirits but without the alcohol content. Different brands have different approaches:

  • Monday, Ritual and Spiritless: These three brands’ products are non-alcoholic versions of spirits, such as whiskey and rum, that are a one-to-one replacement for alcohol. For example, non-alcoholic tequila instead of regular makes a virgin margarita.
  • Lyre’s: Lyre’s takes the one-to-one idea further with zero-proof versions of liqueurs like bitter apéritifs and coffee liqueur.
  • Seedlip: Unlike the others, Seedlip doesn’t mimic specific alcohols. Instead, spiced and herbal infusions bring complex flavor to drinks.

You can mix these with non-alcoholic mixers like cola, lemon-lime soda, ginger ale, ginger beer, sparkling water, soda water, tonic water and club soda. Alternatively, you can just as easily shake them into your favorite classic cocktail recipe in lieu of alcohol to turn it into a dry drink.

With more coming on the market all the time, you can essentially build an entire bar around these trendy non-alcoholic spirits. Keep in mind that they have limited shelf lives in comparison to bottled alcohol.

Here are some of the top zero-proof spirits to stock your bar with:

Non-alcoholic bitters

Even cocktail bitters, which traditionally contain trace amounts of alcohol, can be non-alcoholic.

All the Bitter is a brand that produces both classic and creative flavors, such as aromatic, chocolate mole and lavender, allowing customers to season their favorite drinks without any hint of alcohol at all.

Tips for Dry January

Like quitting anything, going cold turkey is hard, but it’s how many people take on Dry January. Here are some tips for taking it in stride.

Plan ahead. If you know before New Year’s Eve that you plan to take on the challenge, try limiting your alcohol intake whenever possible throughout the months prior so that the transition isn’t as harsh.

Do it your way. If not drinking for a whole month sounds tough, take it at your own pace and simply drink less without giving it up altogether. Try limiting yourself to a certain number of drinks per week or choose low-ABV (alcohol by volume) drinks, which contain less alcohol.

Accountability. Ask a friend or your partner to join you. Check in to see how the month is going and encourage each other.

Enjoy the process. Sometimes the pleasure of drinking is simply the act of pouring a glass of wine or making a cocktail. Try subbing that process for a mocktail recipe, like a virgin Moscow mule, or pouring a glass of zero-proof wine or non-alcoholic beer instead.

Make it easy. It’s a good idea to figure out your favorite non-alcoholic drink(s) and make sure to have the ingredients on hand at all times. When thirst strikes, you’ll be ready with a refreshing drink you love that still satisfies you.

The best dry January drinks

Now, let’s get into some of the best mocktails to enjoy during Dry January:

a bottle of ritual zero proof alcohol

Other non-alcoholic drinks

Not into non-alcoholic beer, wine or cocktails? Here are some recipes for beverages that are 100% delicious on their own:

Cold Drinks

Warm Drinks

The Golden Ratio Guide:

Mix the perfect cocktail, every time

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